Contractors and consultants are rejecting Network Rail projects as decreasing margins and 'difficult' client relationships are forcing staff out of the sector, senior industry figures have told NCE.
'We want to be in the rail business and want to have contracts, but there's a lot of aggro and a lot of younger guys are put off,' said the director of one major consultant's rail division, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of commercial reprisals from a monopoly client.'This is a market in which engineers can pick and choose where they work, and people are having a hard time in the rail sector and saying 'bugger this, I want to do work which looks a bit more fun', like the Olympics or building work.'Atkins director for the Midlands region Stephen Ashton said that Network Rail's penny pinching was creating recruitment and retention problems across the consultancy sector.'Our guys are looking at work-life balance and are unwilling to work the long hours they used to. They're also unwilling to be beaten up by Network Rail. They are looking for work elsewhere - where they're not being asked to do more for less,' he said.Mott MacDonald railways director James Martin added: 'Driving down cost at the expense of quality isn't good for recruiting and retaining staff.'